On Monday, June 10, the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East hosted a public discussion on the economic challenges facing the region.
Hariri Center Deputy Director Tuqa Nusairat welcomed guests and framed the discussion. Dr. Jihad Azour, director of the Middle East and Central Asia department at the International Monetary Fund, then presented the findings of the IMF’s 2019 Regional Economic Outlook (REO) for the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Dr. Azour emphasized four major factors impacting the region’s economics: slowed global growth (projected to drop from 3.6 to 3.3 percent this year); lower and more volatile oil prices; lower external demand, particularly from key trading partners (China, Europe, and Russia); and uncertain global financial conditions. Slow progress in improving employment rates since 2011 has fueled rising discontent as well as hindered growth. Dr. Azour outlined several fiscal and structural policy recommendations for both oil-exporting and oil-importing countries in the region. He advised that the former resume gradual consolidation, insulate the economy from oil shocks, strengthen fiscal institutions, improve business environment and governance, increase SME access to finance, and invest in human and physical capital. He advised that the latter also pursue growth-friendly consolidation, initiate targeted social transfers and restructuring and digitization of SOEs, increase exchange rate flexibility, improve access to credit and the business environment, and undertake product and labor market reforms.
On Tuesday, June 18, the Africa Center hosted a public event on the state of democracy in Africa, occasioned by the launch of the new book Democracy Works: Rewiring Politics to Africa’s Advantage by Brenthurst Foundation Director Dr. Greg Mills, former Zimbabwean Minister of Finance Mr. Tendai Biti, Dr. Jeffrey Herbst, and former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.
On June 13, 2019, the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center hosted Spencer Dale, group chief economist of BP, for the launch of BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2019. Amb. Richard Morningstar, founding chairman of the Global Energy Center at the Atlantic Council, introduced Dale and remarked upon the importance of the Statistical Review as the industry “gold standard,” as well as the general interpretation of this year’s report as gloomy due to rising global energy demand and emissions.
On June 12, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center in partnership with POLITICO, hosted a timely event to discuss the economic costs of tariffs on Mexican imports for US consumers. The event was held less than a week after a US-Mexico deal was reached.
On June 11, the Atlantic Council’s Global Business & Economics Program’s Economic Sanctions Initiative hosted a roundtable discussion on the prospects of the United States’ maximum pressure campaign on Iran, featuring Brian Hook, US Special Representative for Iran and Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of State.
On June 10, the Atlantic Council’s Global Business & Economics Program’s and Future Europe Initiative hosted a roundtable discussion on the current state and the future of transatlantic ties featuring Caroline Vicini, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to the United States. The event also served as a farewell to Ms. Vicini, who after several years of distinguished leadership in her current position will be soon leaving Washington, DC.
On Thursday, June 6, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center partnered with its Global Business and Economics Program and Baker McKenzie to discuss the recent trends in Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in North America and Europe. The event marked the launch of Baker McKenzie’s latest report, Chinese FDI: A New Reality. Driven by regulatory changes, Chinese foreign direct investment flows into North America and Europe dropped by $80 billion last year to $30 billion. The discussion focused on assessing what drove this decline and in what ways did US-China trade tensions play into FDI dynamics.
While the United States and China grapple over trade, intellectual property rights, technology transfer, and geopolitical tensions in East Asia, open competition has not yet extended to the Middle East, a region where Washington remains a major player and Beijing has rapidly expanded its influence.